Whether Stephen Binning was scrambling along in a combat crawl or making hairpin turns on his scooter board around the household, he let his family know before he could even talk that he was never going to be someone who succumbed to his handicap.
“It took awhile for him to get it going, using a combat crawl for a long time,” his father, Tim, said. “When it was clear he wasn’t going to be able to walk we modified a scooter board, basically a small piece of wood with some casters on it, and all of a sudden he was zooming all around the house as fast as he could.”
Binning came into the world with spina bifida, a birth defect that develops when a portion of the neural tube fails to develop or close properly, causing defects in the spinal cord and in the bones of the backbone.
Spina bifida occurs in various forms of severity.
The 2013 Desert Vista graduate never let it define him. Yes, he is confined to a wheelchair, but no it has not restricted his life. More than anything Binning has approached every day as a challenge.
One he meets head on every time.
Binning integrated himself into the Desert Vista student body senselessly and immersed himself into athletics. He played wheelchair basketball, but was pulled toward track where the days of speeding around the house on his homemade scooter board paid off in a big way.
He was recently named to the U.S. Paralympic Track Team and will compete in the World Championships in Lyon, France.
“I am pretty sure I’ve always found a way to get things done,” he said. “I may have to do things a little differently but if there was something I thought I could do, I would, or at least find a way as close as possible, to try to get it done. I’ve always wanted to be a part of everything and be like everyone else at school.”
It’s why he was fully accepted into the Thunder track program where he worked with coaches in refining his technique in the 100, 200 and 400 dashes.
“From his freshman year when I told him he should be a part of our high school team to now he has been focused,” Thunder coach Cassandra Cline said. “Stephen sets goals and will work hard to achieve these goals. We had to plan around high school meets, open meets, and his summer goal. This has been a team effort over the past four years with his club coach, parents, and Stephen’s dedication.”
The dedication led to the team trails two weeks ago in San Antonio where he finished second in the 100, third in the 200, and sixth in the 400.
The performance was enough to get him placed on the U.S. National team headed to France July 19-28 for the 2013 International Paralympic Athletics World Championships.
“When we got the news I had to hold back the tears,” Tim said. “When he was an infant we had no idea what was ahead of him. We never really dreamed of something like this, but he has taken on life at every turn. He has made the most of opportunities he has had and he will continue to take advantage of those presented to him in the future.”
Binning, 18, is ranked 14th in the world in the 100 with all the competitors ahead of him in their late 20s and 30s. He is the up and comer in the world of paralympic track and field with his eyes on the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
“This is a step forward, and where I need to be,” Binning said. “It’s my first international meet and it will be a chance to show I belong in the elite division and put me on track to make the 2016 Paralympics.”
It’s a long time away, but so are the days when he was having countless surgeries on his legs as an infant, just before it became clear that Binning had a thing for speed.
“I don’t remember a lot of it, but I always told myself I was going to at least try everything I wanted to do,” Binning said. “I may not have had a regular childhood now that I think about it. Back then I didn’t know or cared. I just tried to do everything I could the way I could.”
Binning has rarely slowed down since, when others in the same situation have given in to the handicap.
“We did our best to treat him as any other kid instead of someone with a disability,” Tim said of the way he and his wife, Allison, raised their son. “Plus, it was clear he had an inherent can-do attitude. He never had any self-pity or never really got depressed.
“He just wanted to do what everyone did and never really anything kept him from doing it.”
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.